Thomas Mayne Daly

Brandon's First Mayor

by George Siamandas

Thomas Mayne Daly, Brandon's first mayor and Canada's first juvenile court judge. Daly was born on Aug 16 1852. He was born in Stratford August 16 1852 to Thomas Mayne Daly Sr who was Stratford's mayor and federal MP for Perth. One of two sons, Daly was educated in Toronto becoming a lawyer in 1876. Daly moved to Brandon in 1881 at a time it was a pioneering community of 100. He became Brandon's first lawyer later becoming a realtor, notary public and commissioner.

The first passenger train arrived in Brandon on Oct 11, 1881, and the city was incorporated May 30, 1882. Initially Brandon promoted itself as the Pearl of the Prairies, but subsequently became better known as the Wheat City. By 1882 the railway transformed Brandon, swelling the population to 3,000 people. Daly who had previous municipal experience in Stratford became mayor in 1882. Daly introduced a $150,000 borrowing bylaw that enabled Brandon to carry out a major public works including sidewalks, fire hall police station, a stream powered fire engine, a cemetery and aid to Brandon Hospital. He became a QC in 1890.

Daly entered federal politics in 1887 winning the Selkirk riding serving for the next 10 years. A strong supporter of western settlement, he established an experimental farm, several public buildings including the Brandon Post Office, and increased support to the immigration dept. In 1892 he became Canada's first Minister for the interior, Immigration and Indian Affairs and thus the first Manitoba MP to sit on the federal cabinet. Daly was a strong advocate of immigration and trade and in 1893 initiated the North West Immigration Act. Daly moved to BC for a few years but returned to Manitoba in 1902 to reside in Winnipeg and practise law.


In 1904 he became police magistrate. And by 1911 he wrote the standard text "Canadian Criminal Behaviour." Daly helped develop new attitudes towards young offenders, were young people received special treatment. He worked with various youth welfare organizations including Children's Aid Society, Winnipeg General Hospital, the YMCA, the Salvation Army and local educational organizations.

In 1908 the federal govt passed the Juvenile Delinquents Act which had force till the 1984 Young Offenders Act. The 1908 act said no juvenile could be found guilty of a crime. Youth was "only a misdirected and misguided child needing encouragement, help and assistance." In 1909 Daly became Canada's first juvenile court judge. On the bench, he set an example of fairness and compassion. But his career was cut short.

Daly died suddenly of a kidney haemorrhage in 1911 at age 59. He received a civic funeral. Flags flew at half mast in Winnipeg and Brandon.


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